This book was not what I expected. I don’t really know what I’d expecteThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
This book was not what I expected. I don’t really know what I’d expected exactly, but after hearing good things about it I launched straight in without even reading the blurb. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and it had me racing through the pages to put it all together. It’s a very strange book, possibly in part due to it being a translation as it wasn’t written in English. That can lead in some places to some very odd sentences and moments that didn’t quite flow right, but are easily forgiven.
To start with I was highly confused. There is a lot of confusion with so many different character perspectives and not all of them are named and then there are flashbacks and really you have no idea where you might be and which character you might be with at any given point. It’s a jarring way of writing and reading to get used to and at first I really wasn’t sure if this book was going to be my cup of tea as I really wasn’t getting into it. However, a few chapters in when things begin to start unravelling and you have a better grasp of who is who, something clicks. And from that point I could not put the book down. I raced through it in a matter of hours, I just had to know how it would all come together. And the tension! It’s a short book but the tension is sky high. I didn’t even realise how stressed and invested in it I was until I finished and had to spend five minutes deliberately relaxing all my muscles from the clenched how on earth can this end well position I’d been in from around the halfway point.
It’s criminal that this book doesn’t have many high ratings on goodreads as I feel that it is seriously overlooked and under valued. Lumikki is a fantastic heroine with a troubled past who has worked hard to learn how to protect herself and keep herself safe. Some of the other characters were not as believable or engaging, but Lumikki really drove the story. I am very much looking forward to getting into the second book and seeing how Lumikki grows and evolves from the events of this book....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honesThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
I’m going to be honest, this is my third attempt at reading this book, but third time is apparently the charm because whilst the first two tries I only got a few chapters in before I lost interest and gave up. This time however, my interest held, which was great because I have been looking forward to the climax of this series for about two years now…
It was good to finally have a resolution to the story. There were a lot of loose ends tied up neatly, but there were also a whole host of things that were left unresolved. You just have to pick and choose what was important to have wrapped up, so some people will be really pleased with the ending, and others will feel frustrated.
There was also a lot of good character growth and development for some characters – mainly Flea – whilst others were relegated to secondary flat one trick ponies (I’m looking specifically at the Monkeys here) which was a big disappointment given how much potential for growth the story offered. There is such a huge cast of characters that it felt like some were really short changed, others were thrown in for conflict or reasons unknown and some were left to be cardboard cut outs masquerading as fully formed people. Considering one of the things that I loved so much about the first few Snyder books were her characters and their development, this was a big let down.
The plot was a bit mixed. On the one hand there were some great action sequences (although you really had to suspend disbelief and logic for some parts) and it was great to finally get to the big battles we’ve been building towards (although again, not as much big epic battle as I was expecting for a war…) but it felt very oddly paced. Like lots of little stories building up into the big climax, which in some cases worked and others didn’t. It felt a little like peaks and troughs of emotion and stress where they would go and do a daring rescue, followed by a lot of walking/camping/several days of just checking on patients and sleeping. Which may be accurate and true to life, but doesn’t make for brilliant reading.
I also got slightly frustrated that after all the deaths in the first two books, everything was taken back. I was so excited in the first book that this series wasn’t afraid to kill off loved main characters, and then it felt a little pointless. Suddenly death stopped meaning anything at all.
My final frustration was the imprinting/bonding thing. Maybe it’s just that I need to go back and re-read the first two books again, but I don’t remember this coming up before. As a result it just felt really random and thrown in there and I wasn’t really sure I understood what it was and what it was supposed to mean and how that altered things....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy in excThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Huge thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
‘Treason’ is one of three novellas featuring strong LGBTQIA women being published by Less Than Three Press and I was so excited to get stuck into it. Unfortunately ‘Treason’ falls into the trap of many novellas where the idea is so intriguing that there simply isn’t enough space to cover everything and you end up with a very cropper view of the story as only one real element is brought to the fore. I could have quite happily read a full novel set in this world.
The world itself is intriguing and there is so much set up, so many names and places and intrigues and not enough time devoted to them. I wanted more, I wanted detail, but instead the sheer volume of information being thrown into these pages made me feel overwhelmed and I found it really hard to keep up with all the different houses and plots.
I also found the start of the relationship a little bit too rushed. There was a big surge of attraction and then everything simmered down to almost non-existent before another surge out of nowhere at the end of the story. It felt too random and the relationship itself too forced. It suffered from the same problem as the world – it needed more time to develop....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
As you are all well aware by now, I love Deanna Raybourn’s books. They are beautifully written, fantastically researched and filled with glorious settings and characters. They tick all of my internal boxes for what makes a great read. My heart will always truly lie with the Lady Julia series, so whilst I loved the first two standalone books Raybourn released set in the 1920s, they couldn’t quite compete with my love for Julia. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I sat down to read this book and discovered that Raybourn had very slyly been setting up a beautiful interweaving of stories. The three standalone 1920s books were carefully slotted together with appearances from characters in different books, and at the end of ‘City of Jasmine’ a very interesting appearance of the Vespiary. Which then linked back to the Lady Julia novellas. And then came full circle with this third book where Poppy (our plucky and feisty heroine) turns out to be Plum’s daughter. I could have cried. It was so wonderful to have that little glimpse of the characters from Lady Julia, through Plum’s scenes and Poppy discovering her Aunt Julia’s diaries that we ourselves know and love. It was wonderful and made this book incredibly special having that link.
The characters were brilliantly written as always, and I think Poppy is my second favourite heroine only to Julia. She was so wonderful. Funny and snarky and brave and determined and so full of life and stubbornness. (I wonder where she gets it from…) I was quite sad to know that we wouldn’t see any more of her story beyond this book, because by the end of the story I’d become rather attached. Raybourn has a fantastic way of writing characters that just makes them work. They feel real, their struggles and hopes and journeys and I love being given the chance to peek in on that....more
The full list of authors is impressive: Rainbow Rowell, Kelly Link, Matt de la Peña, Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Holly Black, Gayle Forman, Myra McEntire, Kiersten White, Ally Carter and Laini Taylor. A smorgasbord of incredible Young Adult authors from across a multitude of genres.
With every anthology you end up with a bit of a mixed bag of stories with some that you wish were much longer and had their own books, and others that you end up skimming or skipping entirely. Due to the incredible array of authors you also end up with fantasy stories getting cosy next to contemporary which can end up as more than a little confusing to change mindsets so quickly for each story. It might have worked slightly better had the order been rearranged, but that is a minor quibble and something that may not even bother most people. That said, having such a diverse range of authors with their individual styles, meant that there were a truly wonderful collection of stories filled with people of all races, ethnicities, religions and sexualities.
It’s bookended with two of the best stories, starting with Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights” which tells a love story set on New Years Eve over several years and several midnights which just melted my heart into a pile of goo right from the start. It was a fantastic start to the book, but it also set the bar stupidly high which not all of the other stories lived up to. And then that ending with Laini Taylor’s “The Girl who Woke the Dreamer”. Oh my. I mean I love Taylor’s book so I was expecting something good, but this one completely blew me away. It was haunting and gorgeous and so completely different to anything else in the anthology. It sends you away on a truly incredible high....more
Thanks to Netgalley and Tor for sending me a copy in exchange for an hoThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Thanks to Netgalley and Tor for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I was all kinds of excited when this book first popped up on my radar. Regency period? A favourite. Romance? Yes please. Young ladies sent to a reformatory school which is actually a front for a training school for spies and espionage? Give it to me now. It all started off so well, but unfortunately there were all kinds of problems littered throughout that stopped this book being the read I’d hoped it would be.
Let’s start with the biggest thing for me. I am a huge stickler for historical accuracy. If you’re going to write a book and set it in a particular time period then for goodness sake get the etiquette, speech and ideas right. This felt like a contemporary novel dressed up in pretty dresses to look like an historical one, without any of the constraints of the time period. It felt like it was attempting something along the same lines as Gail Carriger’s ‘Finishing School’ books, but whilst Carriger adheres to the rules of the period and then plays with the ideas and brings in humour, ‘A School for Unusual Girls’ just ignored all of the rules and as a result really frustrated me (and anyone else who expects some modicum of historical accuracy when reading an historical novel.)
The second big frustration was two-fold – the lack of any real depth to the characters and the instalove. These were kind of combined as the lack of depth contributed to the love story feeling forced and out of place. Georgia knows the man for all of four days before she decides she’s completely in love with him (and vice versa) and that’s what sets off the chain of rather obvious and ludicrous events of the second half. The girls at the school were fascinating and I wanted to know more about them, but aside from Tess they are largely relegated to the background, presumably so they can be trotted out in future books and not have the reader know a huge amount about them. The whole thing just felt like an exercise in frustration. It was full of great ideas poorly executed. A mixture of truly interesting characters and then our heroine who seemed largely unable to function like a coherent human being. For someone who is supposedly intelligent and logical she really doesn’t show it. It feels like it’s going to be a novel based in reality and then there are vague allusions to the supernatural and premonitions which felt forced and jarred me because where? What? Why? They are thrown in and then the reader is given nothing more – no explanations or anything. That actually drove a huge amount of the irritation for me. Georgie is thrown into this school against her will and then no one will talk to her or explain anything to her and she isn’t really given a choice. If the idea behind the school isn’t spoiled in the blurb then this refusal to answer questions might prolong the tension, but as it is it was just irritating in the extreme.
Then there were the niggly errors, like a two days passing and then characters referring to the events from two days previous as yesterday which made the whole thing infinitely more confusing and frustrating than it needed to be. There were also problems with tenses and grammar in some places – all things that could have been easily rectified in edits.
I was so excited to read this novel, I had such high hopes and expectations, but unfortunately it failed to live up to any of the expectations. It suffers from the problem that a lot of start of series novels seem to find themselves in, they are so busy building up the set up that they don’t focus on becoming an interesting story in their own right, they are effectively a prequel for the second book where the story will hopefully start to kick off....more
I absolutely loved Heather Dixon’s debut novel ‘Entwined’ a retelling oThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
I absolutely loved Heather Dixon’s debut novel ‘Entwined’ a retelling of the tale of the twelve dancing princesses, and have been eagerly awaiting her next novel since then. Which meant there were an awful lot of expectations to live up to before I even opened the book.
Jonathan is a wonderful protagonist. With so many female protagonists it was great to see such an incredible book with a boy at its heart. He’s proper and polite (some of the dialogue and exclamations had me laughing out loud) and funny – best use of footnotes I’ve seen since Jonathan Stroud and Jasper Fforde. And he’s an all around kind and determined young man. He never stops trying to fight to save those he loves, even if that does mean his compass goes a little off course at points.
The supporting characters are also amazing – I loved Lockwood particularly. I kind of want another book that is just Lockwood and Jonathan fighting and bantering. He is genius, and I want to give him hugs, all the hugs.
I had forgotten, as it has been a while since I read ‘Entwined’ just how terrifying Dixon can make things. Illusionarium is definitely very dark and twisted, but it’s done in quite a light way – it’s hard to explain! But I definitely wasn’t expecting to be as terrified reading this as I was. It felt like quite an exciting, colourful journey to start with but the further enmeshed in the story you became the more it tilted into some terrifying carnival of horrors.
I had no real idea what the story would be about going in, and I’m not going to spoil it for you here because it’s quite an exciting story that takes you places that you would never expect. Just know that it is brilliantly written, hugely imaginative, fantasy, dystopia and steampunk all rolled up into one, with a wonderful hero at its heart. Plus, there is very minimal romance, which in the current trend of romance! Love triangles! Is a different and wonderful choice. It meant that there was much more focus on the story without the distraction element of a romance subplot, and it made quite a refreshing change. There's lots of other love though, most notably sibling love and family love and it is so awesome to see a novel only looking at that. The other refreshing change? It appears to be a standalone. I love that Dixon has created two such wildly different stand alone stories in a world where we are being inundated with series.
This is something very different from what you are probably imagining from the blurb, and also from everything else I’ve read this year. A uniquely brilliant and imaginative story that gets incredibly dark and twisted at points and had me feverishly reading to find out how on earth it all ended....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Bantam Press for sending me a copy in exchThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Bantam Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
I’m still feeling really conflicted about this book, even several days after finishing it. I adored the first book in the series ‘Queen of the Tearling’. It had a determined, likeable and relatable heroine at its heart. A fascinating world (although it did leave you with a lot of questions about how the world came to be) and an engaging and interesting plot. All in all, ‘Queen’ was one of the best books of 2014 for me.
So I was really excited to get stuck into ‘Invasion’ but instead of the all-consuming brilliance and love I felt for the first one, I was left feeling mixed and at odds with the story. Some people will prefer this story to the first as it offers far more insight into how the Tearling came to be, but be warned that it is a very different beast.
Whilst the first book in the series had vague dystopian undertones, it felt like it fell very firmly into the fantasy category on reading. However the dystopian undertones are back, this time front and centre and we end up with two stories rather than one. We still have Kelsea, but she’s having visions from a pre-crossing American woman, Lily Mayhew, who gives us an insight into the world that prompted Tear to break off and form this ‘better world’. It’s jarring having these two stories because whilst they will eventually intersect, for the majority of the book it is like reading two books. Imagine reading a book that is alternate chapters of ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth ‘Game of Thrones’ by George R R Martin and you’ll have a fairly good idea of what to expect from this one. It’s strange and doesn’t particularly work. Yes both stories are engaging, but we slip from one to the next at the most inopportune moments and end up not connecting with the characters in the same way, and having very halting and slowed pacing on both stories. It takes a while for either of them to gain any momentum, and by the time I found myself fully invested in both I was around three quarters of the way through the book.
Lily’s storyline, whilst interesting, wasn’t the sort of story I had expected to find. It was much harsher, filled with rape, abuse and violence – not things I had been expecting when starting the book, and I found myself having to put the book down and take a step back on a fairly frequent basis. These story elements felt a little gratuitous, as though they were there to hammer a point home and really make it clear that Greg was a Bad Man and that women were effectively breeding machines and property. I think highlighting issues that are often swept under the rug or glamourised is important, but a lot of it didn’t feel like it fell on the right side of that line, as though the same effect could have been achieved with less triggering scenes.
We pinballed between Lily and Kelsea not really having a chance to connect fully with either of them. Kelsea has changed hugely between the first book and this one. She’s matured, she’s become crueller, and I didn’t recognise her throughout a lot of the book. She’s become shallow and vain, as though her integrity has been compromised. I’m trying to reserve judgement until I can read the final book and see the story in its complete form, but I found it much harder to relate to and understand Kelsea in this story, and that meant that the story lost a lot of its appeal.
Despite these problems there was still a huge amount that did work for me. A whole host of characters that I loved getting back to and fleshing out further. I love the world and the relationships, and Johansen’s writing style is still as addictive and engrossing as ever. I made quick work of the book, but really stormed through the final quarter when the stakes get higher and everything starts to rush towards the final crescendo.
I think it will take time for me to truly formulate my thoughts on this book, and probably not until the final book is in my hands and I can see how the story works as a complete piece. It’s full of surprises and twists, jigsaw pieces slotting together to create a compelling tale, but definitely one that was a world away from my expectations from the first book. That could be either a good thing or a bad thing, only time will tell.
EDIT: I wrote this review immediately after reading the book, when I was still incredibly caught up in all of my frustrations and feelings on finishing. In the days since I haven't been able to stop thinking about the book. I loved seeing Kelsea and the Mace and Pen and all the other guards, seeing how their relationships have changed over time and how they respect and trust Kelsea so much more than in the first book. I adored the scenes set in Tear, despite my issues with Kelsea's characterization in this book, and I think that the fact that I keep thinking about them and coming back to them is a good sign and says a lot about the book. I still have issues with a lot of elements, and I still feel conflicted about a lot of things, but the lasting power of the book and my continuing thoughts on the story mean that this is near to a four star read, rather than a straight three star. One of the few times I wish I gave half star ratings!...more
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for sending me a copy in exchanThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
I have been a huge fan and champion of ‘Scarlet’ ever since it first popped up on Netgalley all those years ago. I devoured it in one sitting, I made everyone I know read it, I pestered A.C. Gaughen to know if there would be a sequel and was devastated at the time to know that there wouldn’t. And then a truly marvellous thing happened, Gaughen announced on twitter that there would be two more books turning the original standalone into a trilogy. There were tears, happy tears.
‘Lady Thief’ was then approached with caution. I loved Scarlet so much I was terrified that in my head the bar was too high and that the second book could never live up to the expectations I’d set for it. It was blissfully wrong and Lady Thief was a superb and beautiful continuation to the story, bringing new depths to the characters I’d come to love and setting up for a truly incredible finale with this the final book.
I didn’t even bother being nervous about ‘Lion Heart’, I knew that whatever bat I had in my head Gaughen would smash it to pieces with brilliance. So it was with a more bittersweet enthusiasm that I approached reading this book, because whilst I desperately needed to know how the story would end, I didn’t want to leave these characters. These three slim volumes did not give me all the time I wanted in Scarlet’s world. I dragged my feet, I picked up other books instead, but in the end I caved and I settled in for an afternoon of tea and the culmination of Scarlet’s journey.
It was perfect. Really that’s all that needs to be said, but I will go into a little more detail. Scarlet has grown, evolved and matured over the course of these books and nowhere is it more apparent than in the pages of this final volume here. It’s in her speech, the proper grammatically correct speech that was missing for the first book and a half. She’s embracing who she is, who she was born to be and it is only when she is back with Rob that she slips back into the patterns she has always used before. It was so wonderful to watch her take control, use the weapons at her disposal and turn into a truly formidable woman. There is a part about a third into the novel where she has a truly fantastic speech and I wept reading that, to witness how the surly girl pretending to be a boy and tied scarlet ribbons to her knives and turned into this truly incredible force to be reckoned with.
This novel gifts us with more Scarlet, but also with more of Rob, Much, Bess, Eleanor, and a whole array of other faces. It was so wonderful to see how all of them have matured and changed since we first met them in that first book. Gaughen has a true gift of deftly bringing her characters to life with a complexity and depth that make them feel more vivid and real than most characters confined to the pages in a book.
It is the perfect end to this trilogy. It is full of joy and anger, fear and sadness. I cried repeatedly at the emotion welling up and spilling out of the pages. At the beautiful rich and evocative language Gaughen uses to tell her tale. And at the snapshots of pure blinding happiness and hope that peak through the misery and horror that has been unleashed on these people over the course of the story....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin/Mira for sending me a copy in exThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin/Mira for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
I adored Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series, but when I tried her Bound series I found them a little too dark and tough to fully enjoy so I was a little hesitant coming into this one as to what I should expect – something like the Soul Screamers or something more adult? What I got was a brilliant mix of the two. All of the elements that I loved about the Soul Screamers series but ever so slightly darker and more twisted.
‘The Stars Never Rise’ is a terrifying and action packed book filled with wonderful characters, an intriguing premise and a story that will have you racing through the pages. Once I’d started reading I could not put the book down, I was hooked. I remembered all over again just how much I loved the Soul Screamers series and why. This had all the elements that I loved but Rachel has gifted readers with a much darker and more terrifying world with this story.
Nina made a fantastic heroine. The lengths that she was willing to go to to protect her sister were incredible. She is determined, unfailingly loyal, tough and flawed. I love believable heroines that I can get behind and root for, and Nina is definitely one of those. She is surrounded by a brilliant cast of characters each of whom were interesting in their own right and none of them simply ‘there’ in the background to provide a group. I was interested in each of them and wanted to know more – Rachel has created a really fantastic group that worked well together. I cannot wait to find out more about each of them in future books. There is just enough about each character to give you an idea of who they are and how they work together without giving too much away. The plot was so fast paced that there wasn’t really time for any more than that, but it was enough to get me invested.
Rachel is also brilliant when it comes to romance. There will always be romance but it won’t be how you expect. She puts unique and genius spins on it creating characters and situations that you won’t have seen before and makes them compelling and brilliant. I loved Nina and Finn, I loved the complications and the softer moments. They are a pair that I cannot wait to see more of, I am definitely on team Fina? Ninn? Regardless, I cannot wait to see how their relationship develops over future books.
Like I said the plot is non-stop. I barely had time to breathe as I raced towards the conclusion. It was nail biting and had so many brilliant twists and turns that I was kept on my toes and never quite sure what might happen next. It also felt must darker than the Soul Screamers books, it never felt like there was a truly light moment, everything was dark and hushed and paranoid which I think if the book had been any longer might have felt too much, but as it was it really worked.
My only issue that stopped it from being a five star read was that the length did prevent some relationships fully forming. I didn’t feel the relationship between Mellie and Nina quite thoroughly enough, I wanted to see more of them and to really be on Mellie’s side as well as Nina’s. As it was I definitely felt for her but I wasn’t quite as invested in her as I was with Nina. Something that I’m sure will be remedied with more time spent with the character.
On the whole though this was a fantastic read. I stormed through it and can’t wait for more from this series. It reminded me of all the reasons why I loved the Soul Screamers and made me desperate to go back for a re-read....more
I absolutely adored ‘Seraphina’ when it was first rel**spoiler alert** This review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
I absolutely adored ‘Seraphina’ when it was first released. It was the one and only time I have actually marked down pages in a book because the quotes were so unbearably beautiful and I wanted to go back to them. It was a truly stunning debut, with a fresh and incredibly imaginative story at its heart, filled with prose that was so lyrical and beautiful that at points it reduced me to tears. I could not wait to get my hands on the sequel, and I waited (bereft and impatient) for the next few years until finally, in March this year it was released.
However whilst the last quarter of the novel lifted the story up to virtually a three star read, the first three quarters were not anything like the standard I was expecting. Maybe I went in with unattainable standards having loved the first book so much, but I ended up feeling sorely disappointed by this second part of the duology. I feel that a lot could have been resolved by turning it into a trilogy and allowing more space for the story to breathe. It felt like too many storylines were being rushed through and not enough time spent developing them, and too many characters that we knew and loved from the first book were pushed to the side-lines and were mere bit players in this conclusion.
The biggest problem for me was the pacing of this novel. As I’ve said it felt like it could have easily been two books and allowed the story to fully breathe. As it was, parts that really could have been culled were allowed to strangle the interesting plot points and the first three quarters of the novel dragged terribly. The dragon war that was about to kick off at the end of Seraphina was pushed to the side in favour of Seraphina travelling the lands and trying to gather together the other half dragon’s she has seen in her mind. Whilst it was wonderful meeting them all, to flesh out these characters and see how they responded to this idea of there being more of them, to see how the different cultures treated them and their individual gifts, far too much time was spent in a very samey pattern. Seraphina would travel, she would search, she would find them (remarkably easily) something would go wrong, they wouldn’t come with her. Whilst this wasn’t always the case, that pattern was very much a staple for a good portion of the book, and whilst the different cultures and lands were fascinating there was too much of Seraphina’s own self-pity and wallowing for the reader to fully enjoy it. The novel felt so bleak and depressing – a stark contrast to the high stakes and tension of the first book.
Everything felt like it was going wrong, they didn’t seem able to catch any luck at all, and that was in part due to Seraphina’s own attitude. It was great to watch her develop and attempt to come to terms with her unrealistic expectations and the actual reality, but too much of the book was spent with her despairing and not taking action when she could do. She didn’t seem to have any agency, she couldn’t work out any problem without help and whilst help is always a good thing it became a little too unrealistic when she (and everyone else) is suddenly saved by (view spoiler)[Pandowdy (hide spoiler)] at the end. I didn’t feel like she learned anything, like she was able to take control of her life in any real way. I kept waiting for her to piece things together and to find a way to save everyone, but she didn’t. It felt thoroughly disappointing. Which I hated given how much I was looking forward to this book.
So much of what made Seraphina herself was missing – the music that made up so much of the first book was barely present. The strong, independent and fearless woman was gone, replaced with a hollow shell filled with misery and loneliness.
The romance was also a big problem for me. I loved the intense yearning and build up that was achieved between Seraphina and Kiggs in the first book, and I was expecting more of it, but instead I ended up hating the relationship. Where was the subdued and quiet passion? Where was the intensity of feeling and meeting of like minds that made me fall in love with these two in the first place? It was lacking in so many ways. There wasn’t enough time devoted to them, the relationship and Kiggs himself was swept under the rug, and what moments the two stole together made me turn on the relationship. It stopped being a sweeping love and felt as though Kiggs was hiding Seraphina and she in turn was a jealous mistress. It soured the relationship for me and made me feel like I couldn’t want them to be together. (view spoiler)[That is resolved somewhat with the revelation at the end about Selda’s own feelings, and that could have switched things into something truly glorious and brilliant, but it lacked conviction. All the important discussions and scenes where the three of them try and work out this tangled relationship were kept from the reader, we were supposed to just take it that they were making it work, which felt cheap and frustrating. I wanted Selda’s feelings to be made clearer throughout, for both her and Kiggs to play a bigger role in the novel instead of being relegated to the side-lines and for the conversations where they build this relationship between them to be open to the reader. (hide spoiler)]
There were also a lot of incongruous elements that really didn’t work with the world building that had already occurred. I loved the Quig and Dragon devices we were introduced to in the first book, but suddenly there were new devices all over the place doing increasingly modern things, particularly once Seraphina reached Lab Four. They were out of place – GPS, phone and computer technology that didn’t fit in with the rest of the world and jarred me straight out of the story.
These things aside there were a lot of things that I did love about the book. The meeting of all of the half dragons, although it felt that what they endured was really horrific and not adequately dealt with in the story. It was painful to see Seraphina’s dream of being with them all shattered so horribly. I also loved the different cultures, the quirks, the dress, the foods, the religion, I thought the world building was fantastic. When Seraphina returns home however the story seems to really pull into its own and whilst there are still issues, it felt infinitely more like the story I had been anticipating to follow the first book. I also really loved the revelations about the saints and how that threw so many things into question, it was a brilliant twist and I found that whole story thread really fascinating.
I missed the lyrical prose that I fell in love with in the first book, and I missed the characters that were barely graced with any time at all. This is sadly an example of a book that could not live up to the brilliance of its predecessor. I’m glad I read it, it’s wonderful to have some closure on the story and to see where Hartman wanted to take these characters for the second half of their journey. However I feel bereft for the story this might have been. It felt like it was pushed and forced to fit this ideal of a single other book, and unfortunately that stifled a lot of what I loved about the first one, leaving me with a pale imitation of the world and characters that I fell in love with in ‘Seraphina’. It truly felt as though Hartman lost the focus and path that she laid out in the first book, and the second book is an odd tangled mess of stories and ideas, some carried through, others discarded, leaving the reader feeling utterly heart sick over the book they never read. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I’m going to be upfront and say that in my eyes, The Selection was notThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
I’m going to be upfront and say that in my eyes, The Selection was not a good trilogy. It was littered with problems, yet despite all that it was like crack. I wanted to know what happened next. So in some ways you could say it was a very good series in that despite my better judgement I kept on shelling out for the next book no matter how dirty it made me feel. Then it was announced that there would be a new duology of books to turn this trilogy into a five book series, this time with Maxon and America’s daughter as the heroine and she would be doing a selection of her own, this time with thirty five boys. Against my better judgement I was intrigued. After all, turning the tables like this and making the boys do all the things that America and the girls had to do? Putting the woman in a position of power? All of these things sounded good to me. I was just incredibly wary about the execution.
And it turns out that was justified. I’m still feeling a little incoherent after reading this one and doing anything other than face palming is a little hard, but I’m going to try and articulate what went so terribly wrong with this one.
The biggest thing? Eadlyn herself. She was a truly terrible protagonist. I mean if Cass was aiming for one of the most unlikeable heroines in fiction then she was doing brilliantly, but really you need to have a protagonist that the reader can get behind and identify with, someone that the reader wants to know their story and their thoughts and feelings, and that really didn’t happen with Eadlyn.
She was self-centred, spoiled, insulting to everyone, manipulative and plain awful. I was hoping that she would experience some sort of growth and character arc and that by the end of the novel we might begin to see a change, to see how she could begin to grow as a person throughout the next book, but sadly that didn’t occur. She spends the entire book being downright awful to people, feeling sorry for herself whenever anyone calls her out on it and going on about how she is the Queen and there is no-one more powerful than her. I dearly wanted someone, anyone to give her a slap.
She has a serious power complex and a lot of control issues. I am all for independent women and Eadlyn not needing a man to help her rule, but actually her response wasn’t anything related to that. She was convinced she was god’s gift to the masses, and as a result was utterly awful to everyone. She goes on and on about all the work that she has to do but we never see her doing anything other than complaining, sketching and reading newspapers. I mean if her and her father rely on the newspapers to get their information then it’s no wonder the entire country is going downhill.
There was no logic to this. Maxon and America got rid of the castes but didn’t put anything in place to deal with the inevitable problems?! They don’t have advisors and, oh I don’t know, some sort of council and information from somewhere other than their newspapers?!?!? I mean you can see the state I’m in just thinking about it, overuse of punctuation and the italics function…
So there are all of the gaping holes in the country structure and running, the fact that Eadlyn is terrible and unlikeable and manipulative and then we have the boys…
Whilst in The Selection trilogy we got to see America and the girls take on tasks and lessons to help prepare them for the role of future Queen, the boys seem to end up doing nothing at all. I know Eadlyn doesn’t want to end up with any of them and wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible at the start, but it seems a little implausible that the boys wouldn’t have to go through any sort of training. Then we have the obligatory awful boys. I mean there were some pretty awful girls in America’s selection but nothing on the scale of this. It felt unrealistic when more and more ended up being awful. And we don’t really get to know any of the boys, there are a couple of vaguely stand out ones that I can just about recall their names, but on the whole they just blur into one big mush of terrible.
So it’s a bit like watching a train wreck. And yet. There it is again, that against my better judgement that I want to know what happens – and no that isn’t because of that awful cliffhanger. The series is like crack. Terrible characters, awful plot, so full of problems it should sink. But I want to know what happens. Admittedly a peering through my fingers and wincing kind of want to know, but there you have it....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for sending me a copy in exchanThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I am a huge fan of the Throne of Glass series, so like every other fan of Maas’ writing I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this new and intriguing tale. Sarah Maas is a genius at fantasy. She blends fantastical elements with wonderful characters and her books are always bursting with imagination – I love them.
This particular story takes elements from beauty and the beast and weaves them into a different tale to the one we know. It still has the framework of the traditional tale but Maas takes it in a new direction and makes it entirely her own.
The mythology, the ideas, the courts of the High Fae were fantastic. I loved Feyre as a person. She was so determined and feisty and never afraid to speak her mind or do her own thing. Lucien and Tamlin were brilliant too – I think the three of them made a wonderful team and my favourite scenes were when all three were together and bantering.
There were two things that stopped this being a five star read for me. Firstly the pacing. The first half of the book is incredibly slow – I mean borderline glacial at points. I loved the time that Feyre got to spend at Tamlin’s house and the secrecy and withholding of information makes complete sense by the time you reach the end of the book, but without that foreknowledge the pacing of the first half may be enough to put some people off. I wasn’t tempted to put the book down at any point, but I did become a little frustrated with how little seemed to be happening at points. However all of that really pays off by the final third where the tension ratchets up, the excitement kicks off and everything becomes a lot more terrifying.
Secondly the romance. I may be stoned to death for this, but the romance didn’t quite work for me. I loved Feyre and Tamlin, I thought they were great together and definitely steamy, but whilst Feyre was spending months in Tamlin’s company the reader is just getting a few lines about how she’s spending weeks with him – talking and riding and picnicking. I wanted to see that, to witness the depth of affection growing between them, not just have it happen off page and then get to the steamy points.
I would have loved to see more of Lucien, and with a sequel due out next year I’m really hoping we get more of him. Tamlin made a wonderful hero, but I’m always slightly more smitten with the snarky boys and I really want to learn more about Lucien and see him get a bit of happiness.
This is a really fantastic book and I loved falling into Feyre’s world. Maas has a talent for creating magical and wonderful worlds and I really cannot wait to get back into it and see some more in the second book. ...more
I am CONFLICTED right now, because I genuinely don’t know how to rate tThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
I am CONFLICTED right now, because I genuinely don’t know how to rate this one. On the one hand, I barely slept for the three days I was reading it, I couldn’t physically put the book down. It was tense and incredible and SO STRESSFUL TO READ, but IMENSELY AWESOME. (And yes, all of these caps locks are warranted.)
But then there were parts that didn’t work as well for me that make me feel like it can’t be a full spectacular five star read. So I’m gonna try and reason it all out and see if I have a clearer idea at the end of the review. Ready?
I loved this book. I was caught from the first page and I really couldn’t put it down. There were a couple of (ill-timed) moments where real life intruded and I was forced to leave the book to go out, but whenever I had a spare moment, it was back in my hands. I was in a near constant state of stress and tense panic (seriously, just go look at my Goodreads status updates) and it was GLORIOUS.
I was so invested, so immersed in the story and it was so wonderful to just fall into it and escape real life for a while. It doesn’t happen with every book where I actually just forget everything else, and the books it does are my favourites, because I love getting lost in a book. I love being so desperate to return that I shove aside all other life and responsibilities and just burrow down with the story in my armchair.
I have loved seeing how Aelin has matured and grown over the course of the series, it’s been such a transformation and so good to watch, and see both her and those around her develop. Nowhere was that more apparent in this book than with her relationship with Lysandra which was pure gold. Their interactions, the friendship, and Lysandra herself. I have a new favourite, and boy is she sassy.
Lysandra heaved a sigh. "Oh, thank the gods. Now I can talk to someone about clothes without being asked how so-and-so would approve of it, or gobble down a box of chocolates without someone telling me I'd better watch my figure -- tell me you like chocolates. You do, right? I remember stealing a box from your room once when you were out killing someone. They were delicious." Aelin waved a hand toward the boxes of goodies on the table. "You brought chocolate -- as far as I'm concerned, you're my new favourite person."
I also really love Manon. I know her sections have divided people – some love her, some really don’t and begrudge her the time she takes away from Aelin and co. But I happen to fall into the former camp. She’s fascinated me right from the start, so the additional time spent with her in this book made me extremely happy. Admittedly her sections were a lot slower and did drag the pacing down a bit, which was a shame, but I still really enjoyed this fresh perspective from such a different corner of the war and world.
Sure ok there were a few issues with pacing, which I will be addressing more in a moment when I talk about the issues, but on the whole OH WOW. Like I said, this book was tense, I could not put it down. Particularly in several of the really big everything is kicking off and how on earth can anyone survive any of this?! scenes. The writing was like a well oiled machine, flipping from character to character together to create one breath taking whole. I was manically tearing through pages to find out what would happen, and that is a sign of a truly incredible book.
Now let’s talk issues. First off, the one that is making an appearance in a lot of reviews at the moment, Chaol. What even happened?! Did he have a personality transplant between ‘Heir of Fire’ and this book?! The Chaol that appeared within these pages was not the Chaol of the last three books that I fell in love with, and I spent most of the book wanting to either smack him or shake him. He was an absolute arse, awful and horrible and mean and yeah sure he went through some bad things at the end of the last book, but REALLY, could he have been any different and worse?! So anytime he showed up and started snarking at Aelin, the book dropped down to a four star read.
It was also such a shame to see Chaol and Dorian reduced to such bit parts. I could understand it to a certain extent with Dorian, but they were both characters I really love in this series, so to see them reduced and butchered like that was really upsetting. And for what? To try and persuade people that this new shiny romance is the way to go? I was on board with this romance already, I didn’t need this character assassination to persuade me, and in fact I’m grumpier now as a result of that than I was before.
And the boys territorial, over protective attitude towards Aelin?! WHAT EVEN? Boys, she’s done just fine without you before now, and yes ok you’ll be very useful now but stop trying to restrict her and being complete and utter poops in the process. Sit in the corner and think about your attitudes!
My final issue was Elide. She was interesting, yes, but not interesting enough to warrant that much time being spent on her. It really dragged some of the story down and reduced the pace to a snails crawl, which considering how well paced I found the rest of the book was a shame. I think she has potential to be a really interesting player in the next instalment, but her introduction here was handled badly and proved to be a bit of a dead weight on the rest of the story. So lots of truly brilliant awesome things, but then a handful of giant grumposaurus problems that really threw a spanner in my joy, adoration, and feverish reading. On the one hand, this book was amazing, on the other hand WHAT EVEN HAPPENED IN SOME OF THAT.
You see my problem and conflict? I think I’m just going to have to put this as a four star read and consider it to be four and a half really.
This is a truly incredible instalment in the series. It won’t be for everyone, and the problems I’ve talked about, whilst grumps for me, will probably be enough to put some people off this series for good. However I still loved the book, it was a fantastic read, brilliantly written on the whole and more than satisfying. My love for this series is alive and well and I cannot wait for the next book – it’s going to be a long year. Now I just need to not spoil anything whilst Husband finishes reading it… ...more
Thanks to Netgalley and 5 Prince Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I am a huge fan of historical novels, particularly when they feature a strong female protagonist who isn’t afraid to use her wits/charms/any attributes whatsoever to get what she wants, so I was understandably excited when I started this one. However it all went downhill from the blurb and the pretty cover.
The biggest problem is Adela. Whilst it may be historically accurate that girls were married off young, reading about a fifteen year old girl who is so forward as to be almost obscene and delights in seducing men left, right and centre, does not make for good reading. It instead makes for highly uncomfortable and awkward reading and there were more than a few points where I nearly put the book down. If she was just a few years older or her character was approached in a slightly different way it would alleviate a lot of the problems. She also has no depth to her. There is nothing that makes her feel like a real person. She is a plot device and not a particularly well used one. She has nothing beyond her beauty that makes her an individual and as a result she becomes a very one note character and one that isn’t sympathetic in the slightest.
The second problem is the lack of setting and plot. It’s obvious that this is supposed to be an historical novel. However there is no real idea of setting – in fact nothing about what land it is is mentioned until a third of the way through the novel, and then only briefly before being forgotten about. It means that the reader assumes that this will be some sort of European setting given the titles and hierarchy, not to mention the clothing and royal family. However if that is the case then the dialogue is massively flawed as it is littered with colloquialisms, modernisms and general awkwardness. The lack of setting really doesn’t do the novel any favours and leaves the reader feeling confused and lost throughout most of the book.
Then there is the plot. Or lack thereof. The first quarter of the novel serves no purpose whatsoever and would put most readers off reading the entirety of the novel. It feels like it’s trying to be a period drama, focusing on Adela and her rise to power, but it has no driving force, no real pacing and you just drift through three years of Adela’s life without really feeling like you’ve gone on a journey as Adela herself has no real character growth or objective. Like I’ve said before, she is a flat character that cannot carry the story on her own....more
I hate it when a blurb does not do a book justice. It happened with ‘The Raven Boys’ by Maggie Stiefvater, and it has happened again here. You guys, this book is so good. It was everything I wanted, everything I didn’t dare to hope for, and everything that I had hoped for when I read ‘The Jewel’ by Amy Ewing, ‘Red Queen’ by Victoria Aveyard and even The Selection trilogy by Keira Cass. It took all of the elements that I loved and wanted to see properly in those books and created a wonderful, original and incredibly compelling tale.
The story is so beautifully handled, and so full of twists and turns. This isn’t your stereotypical YA romance, it is so much more than that. The characters are incredibly written, the story is wonderfully paced building up to a tense and climactic end and the prose is divine.
And let’s talk about that prose. I could gush about Rotkoski’s prose. It is a thing of beauty. She has a rare skill of being able to weave a tale and make it so incredibly realistic, to draw you in until you can feel the sun and see the villas. Everything becomes heightened and real, but in amongst that is a beautiful lyrical quality to the prose. It’s the sort of prose that made me fall in love with ‘The Night Circus’ but instead of wandering and relying on the imagery to do the work, this prose is a sharp and finely honed as a blade. It is exquisite to read and leaves you breathless to find out where the story will go....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I want to say upfront that I love the TV show ‘The Originals’, I think it’s fantastic, so I was curious to see how this book expanded on the most messed up family we know. However there is always a danger with books based off movies and TV shows that things are going to go horribly wrong, and sadly this book continued that trend. Luckily it wasn’t quite as dire as ‘Stefan’s Diaries’ who were obviously written by someone who had never seen The Vampire Diaries or read the original books and felt like making up some bad backstory that didn’t correlate to anything in the slightest. There was a lot going for this first instalment in ‘The Originals’ backstory, but sadly there were enough cons to deny it a higher rating.
For fans of the tv show no real introduction or character building is necessary, we’re coming into this with a working knowledge of these characters and everything about them. However this book relies far too heavily on that early knowledge and as a result does no work at all to build the characters or make the story remotely readable for someone who has never seen the show. Without the show we would have very little character development or even any idea about who these people are and what they’re doing. It’s sloppy and something that could have been easily remedied.
Then there are the irritations. The instalove, which occurs with both Klaus and Rebekah. The characters are all so flat and the narrative glosses over so much of the story that there is no depth, no real development and no emotion. We are told they are in love, so much so that they will overturn their lives, and after what? A dance? A conversation? It is so laughable and so terrible and yet that is what the majority of the plot hinges upon....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honesThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
There were a lot of things I liked about the first book in this series ‘The Paper Magician’ although it didn’t follow the route I expected, I thought that it was fantastic unique idea that echoed a lot of the things that I loved about ‘The Night Circus’. So I was really excited to see where Holmberg took this second instalment.
There was a lot that really worked for me in ‘The Glass Magician’ but there were some things that left me feeling a little cold and sadly the relationship between Emery and Ceony was one of those. I wanted to love them and individually I do, but there is something about the set up of the relationship that really doesn’t work for me. I think it’s a combination of the age difference and that he is in a position of power as her teacher. Whilst nothing is really happening so far and it feels very one sided on Ceony’s side, there are so many little things that Emery does that buoy Ceony’s hope and devotion to him and it feels cruel and unfair. It makes the whole thing feel as though it is an infatuation on her side that is ultimately making their relationship strained and Emery feel uncomfortable – which is not a great state of affairs for a romance plot. In its current state it really doesn’t work for me, which is a shame because I want to love them. However I’m willing to wait and see how things play out in the third instalment before judging it fully.
The same issue that I had with the first book is sadly present again here, with modern language and Americanisms creeping into the characters speech which ruins the setting of turn of the century London.
The last thing is that Ceony’s actions made perfect sense in the first book, whereas here they don’t. She needlessly throws herself into danger and ultimately seems to make things worse and a whole lot of bad things happen, instead of working with the people who actually know what they’re doing. I know they are excluding her which is frustrating and makes her want to take matters into her own hands, but she is so woefully underprepared in every encounter that it just made it painful to read....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I thought I was going to get one kind of novel and then it turned into something quite unexpected. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, it just took me a while to shift gears and get into the new part of the story. The premise is fantastic and I loved the idea and the different types of magic – I could have quite happily read a book entirely about that. However getting to know Thane through the exploration of his heart was an intriguing twist, and once I became used to it, one I quite liked.
I loved the characters, I loved the world, the whole imagination and the thought process behind the magics was brilliant. It was a quick novel that gave me an insight into this reality and left me wanting to go back for more. I’m looking forward to seeing and exploring more of Ceony's London in the next book as so much of this book was taken up with the exploration of Thane’s heart. The exploration was fascinating and really gave me a chance to get to know him as a character and also made Ceony’s attraction to him much more believable, but it did also contain the story into a very rigid set of parameters, and I really want to branch out and see more of this reality and the different types of magic and what they can do....more
Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
There is a huge amount to love in this exciting new debut. Dystopian future where the colour of your blood segregates you? X-Men style powers and a whole lot of throw downs? Oh yes please.I thought this was a great debut, fast paced and full of brilliant ideas. There were a couple of stumbling blocks, but on the whole this was fantastic.
I loved Mare. She was a resourceful and determined and unfailingly brave. She has a few moments later in the novel where I wanted to shake her for not thinking things through, but on the whole she was a great heroine. I also loved the boys. Thankfully this isn’t your typical love triangle (for reasons I won’t spoil here) so if the idea of the love triangle is putting you off, I highly advise trying the book anyway, you will be pleasantly surprised.
But most of all I loved the abilities, the range and breadth and how much they added to the story. Seriously, any type of abilities, be it X-Men or Graceling or anything inbetween, and I am sold. They were woven into the story brilliantly and added a whole other element of danger and intrigue. I would almost have liked to see them used more, but on the whole I think it was fantastic.
Some of the secondary characters could have done with a little more development, we weren’t really given enough time or space to get to know them so their actions sometimes felt a little forced whereas with a bit more development everything would have flowed much more smoothly. But whilst I would have liked that, the pacing was really good with the right level of tension to keep you storming through the story.
However, three things stopped it from being a five star read for me....more
I wanted to like this book, it had such a great cover and blurb and really sounded like it could be something quite exciting. It was being compared to ‘The DaVinci Code’ (which, shush, don’t tell anyone but I kinda enjoyed…) and had a wonderful array of masked balls, international travel and conspiracies. Plus a gorgeous cover. I couldn’t wait to read it.
I’m wondering now I’m on the other side whether it was just the wrong time for me to read it, because sometimes I come back and re-read a book I disliked and really enjoy it the second time around. However, this time it really wasn’t my cup of tea.
There were so many illogical choices and moments, starting with Avery deciding to run off with absolute strangers out of the blue because they said they knew her family (always trust random strangers kids!) and continuing right through wearing her contact lenses for three/four days straight, to hey you have to get married even though you’re not willing and it’s not legal without permission from your parent or guardian!
I know that it was supposed to be a young adult book and therefore we need characters who fit into that age bracket, but the idea that these big powerful secret society families would employ sixteen year olds to organise security/kill people/tote guns around seemed completely ridiculous. If the characters had been aged up to 18 – 20 then a lot of the issues would have been dealt with. As it was it was just irritating.
The other big issue for me was that it really wasn’t compelling. Given the high stakes, the racing around trying not to be murdered, you would think that I would have been racing through the pages to find out what happened, but instead I had to really push myself to keep reading. I was bored. It was a quick read, and once I sat down and got on with it I was through it very quickly, but there wasn’t any hook to keep me interested....more
Unless you have completely avoided the internet for the last year or soThis review was written for The Review Diaries You can read the full review here
Unless you have completely avoided the internet for the last year or so, you will have heard the word ‘Outlander’ bandied about at some point. This is due to the insanely popular TV series on Starz that started airing its debut season in August 2014 and is currently airing the second half of the season on Saturday nights.
Based on the series of books by Diana Gabaldon, the novels have suddenly received a new surge of interest due to the tv series as a whole host of people turn to the books to fill in gaps, find out what happens, and generally sate their unquenchable appetite for the incredible love story between Claire and Jamie.
I was one of these people. I watched the first eight episodes and promptly demanded all the Outlander books immediately. Because reasons. I stormed through the first book and it both sated all my Outlander needs and made the wait for the second half of the season to air nigh on unbearable, because this series is incredible.
Let’s start with Claire, the driving force behind the story. She is an incredible heroine – headstrong, feisty, determined and full of love and loyalty. She is a modern woman thrown out of her own time and forced into a time and situation where her gender plays heavily against her. She brings modern thinking and ideas in like a whirlwind and sweeps everyone up along with her. It is because of her that the book is so compelling to read – she drives the narrative and you cannot help but fall in love with her and want to know how she survives and thrives in this alien world she has stumbled into.
And then of course there’s her counterpart… Jamie Fraser has now set a new standard for fictional heroes. He’s young, yes, and filled with the ideas and status quo of the period he has grown and lived in, but he is also loyal and gentle and prepared to listen to Claire as an equal and adapt and grow so that their relationship is a truly modern affair with both of them holding equal power instead of Jamie ‘owning’ Claire. He loves her – that much is obvious – but the depth of feeling and emotion depicted in the book swept me away. He is the epitome of the romantic hero, full of fire and daring and love and whilst he desperately wants to protect Claire he also acknowledges she is a strong and independent person in her own right. They compliment each other perfectly, which serves to make the romance and relationship one of the strongest in fiction and one of the highlights of the novel.
The first section of the novel is a little slow to get moving, but once you are into the bulk of the story and are following Claire through the trials and mishaps of being a very modern woman in a very unmodern time you become completely immersed and swept up in the tale. I couldn’t put the book down and stormed through it in a night. Gabaldon has a rare talent of combining compelling and interesting characters with a well-researched and thoroughly realistic look at life in 1743 Scottish Highlands and all that that entails. The politics, the clans, the day to day existence – it’s all beautifully rendered in a captivating story that thrills along at an incredible pace. It is a world populated with fascinating and realistic characters and I found myself utterly enthralled as it touches on everything from the bigger politics and shifts of a time when Scotland was desperately fighting to regain its independence to the smaller pieces of life, the superstitions and traditions. I love Scotland and this furthered my love of the country and its history and brought it to life for me in a way other fiction and mediums haven’t yet captured. Despite the magical idea of time travel this is a novel very much rooted in real life, and other than that one breach of reality to get Claire back to 1743 the novel feels real, which makes it even more terrifying to experience some of the scenes later on in the book wen hysteria and a lack of understanding whip events up into a frenzy of terror.
I cannot recommend this book (and subsequent series) enough. Coming to the series now you’re also spoiled for choice as the Starz production of the first book is lovingly brought to life with an incredible cast and absolutely stunning scenery. It’s such a faithful adaptation that satisfies long term fans as well and offers a second entry into the imaginative and captivating story that Gabaldon has created. ...more
I absolutely love Ally Carter’s previous series, both Gallagher Girls and the Heist books, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest offering and get to know a whole new world. Unfortunately my anticipated love affair with ‘All Fall Down’ didn’t quite go as I’d anticipated.
The concept is great, the world is wonderful, the writing is up to Carter’s brilliant standard, but sadly there were problems. The biggest one being Grace herself. I never really felt like I connected with Grace, which is I think due in part to the fact that Grace is the most unreliable narrator I have ever come across in fiction. By about a third of the way through the book I just didn’t trust her at all, which meant that my enjoyment of the book became severely compromised.
It comes across as for a much younger audience, perhaps on that transition line for those just coming into young adult fiction. In part due to the style, but mostly again due to Grace. She never struck me as a sixteen year old teenager, she felt as though she’d gotten stuck at age thirteen. Understandable given the circumstances, but a little bit frustrating to read....more
Holly Black is the Queen of revealing the true terrifying natures of the Fae.
Every book she writes plays host to a whole array of strange and fantastical creatures that are the darkest versions of faeries imaginable, and they are utterly spellbindingly beautiful books. It is an incredible book, showcasing that Holly Black becomes even more talented with each book she writes. It showcases everything she has become known for – flowing prose, strong female characters, and a warping of the world around us until anything seems possible and even the most frightening things are real.
‘The Coldest Girl in Coldtown’ ushered in a new age of Black’s books, and an even more engrossing series of novels. Standalones featuring heady and terrifying new worlds, ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’ isn’t quite as chilling (no pun intended) as ‘Coldtown’ but it branches out to give us a peak at Fairfold and the fae terrorizing its citizens....more
So after my truly terrible experience with ‘Jackaby’, I was back to square one in my search for books like the ‘Lady Julia’ series by Deanna Raybourn. Until that is, I came across Angie’s review of ‘The Anatomist’sWife’ and without further ado I ordered it for the next day.
It is a very rare and utterly wonderful feeling to sink into a book and adore everything about it. To actually want to slow down your reading and savour the words. And then to discover that the book is the first in a series and there are several already published so you can continue to enjoy them at your leisure instead of the torturous wait of a year that new releases leave us with. ‘The Anatomist’s Wife’ gave me that feeling spades. I haven’t felt so absorbed, captivated and enthralled by a book and savoured every page since I discovered ‘Silent in the Grave’ – and my love of that is well documented.
Everything about this book was perfection. I loved Kiera from the start. I loved her backstory that slowly came out – piece by terrible piece. I loved the setting, her family, the atmosphere of fear and terror that seeped into everything, and most of all I loved her tempestuous relationship with Gage. There are so many similarities with the ‘Lady Julia’ series, but not in a bad way, merely the time period, the subject matter and the intriguing and wonderful relationship between the heroine and the investigator involved....more
Oh Jackaby, you had so much promise and you really didn’t live up to it. But then, maybe I’m just a picky customer. Feeling decidedly in need of something close to Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series, Jackaby seemed like a pretty good bet. Mysteries! Deaths! Crime! Supernatural! Sleuthing! Victorian! Sherlock meets Dr Who? Oh yes please to all of the above!
So I dove straight in expecting to be blown away, but instead was mildly put out by the most ridiculous of things. Abigail Rook is supposed to be an English girl – admittedly she has been travelling for some time by the time the story begins, but still, she is a well bred English woman. So why does she insist on narrating and speaking with so many Americanisms? And not only that, but modern ones too? It was enough to make me weep with despair and my poor husband try and wrench the book from my hands. That one very idiotically simple thing virtually ruined the book for me. It put me in such a rubbishly grumpy frame of mind that enjoyment was pretty much squashed. Which is tragic because it could have been so very, very good....more